Lord Howe biosecurity investment locks in rodent-free recovery

Media Release |

Today’s announcement of a NSW Government $32.9 million investment in biosecurity for Lord Howe will ensure the island stays rodent free and secure the recovery of threatened wildlife like the Lord Howe Island woodhen.

‘This biosecurity investment is a vital foundation that will guarantee a bright future for the unique wildlife of Lord Howe Island,’ Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said.

‘It will safeguard the extensive work already done to remove feral animals from the island, in particular rodents, and allow the World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island return to its pre-European vigour.’

Already, rodent eradication has seen black-winged petrel numbers increase by 50%, the Lord Howe Island woodhen population double and the recovery of rare snails, insects and at-risk plant species such as the critically endangered little mountain palm.

‘Without upgraded biosecurity, all the benefits of eradication could be lost.

‘The improved biosecurity measures will keep rodent hitchhikers and other unwanted pests from arriving via regular cargo ships from Port Macquarie and elsewhere or in the luggage of arriving air travellers,’ Mr Cox said.

The $32.9m over four years for Lord Howe Island biosecurity was announced today by NSW Environment Minister James Griffin and NSW Treasurer Matt Kean.

‘After about 20 years of planning, in 2019 an intensive six-month baiting program to rid Lord Howe Island of rodents took place.

‘The island’s quest to be officially declared free of rats and mice received a major setback when a small number of breeding rats were detected in April 2021, prompting an urgent eradication response.

‘While it could not be proven, it is likely that the rats arrived on imported goods, a symptom of weak biosecurity.

‘If eradication is declared and the island’s rodent free status can be maintained, Lord Howe Island will be able to claim the title of world’s largest inhabited island to have successfully eradicated rats,’ said Mr Cox.

In the last decade, myrtle rust and African big-headed ants were eradicated from Lord Howe Island and an ambitious weed eradication program is well underway.

The Lord Howe Island rodent eradication program received a 2021 Froggatt Award.

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